What is Avoidant Personality Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Some people are shy and very sensitive to rejection. Today, we’ll discuss what is avoidant personality disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Avoidant Personality Disorder? 

AVPD (avoidant personality disorder) is a behavioral pattern relevant to sensitivity towards criticism and rejection, inadequate feelings, and social inhibition; and it creates problems in the relationship and workplace.

AVPD falls under the category of “cluster C” personality disorder and it characterizes the behavior of extreme level of sensitivity and shyness. The condition has got links with other mental health conditions like social anxiety disorder and other types of anxiety disorders.

People with AVPD condition exhibit a pattern of avoidance behavior because of the fear of disapproval and rejection as they find it highly painful. According to an estimate, the condition impacts roundabout 2.5% of the total population, and it afflicts an equal number of men and women.

Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder 

Some of the main symptoms of avoidant personality disorder are as follows;

  • Vigilant for the symptoms of rejection or disapproval
  • Viewing yourself as socially inferior or inappropriate
  • Reluctant to try new things or take risks
  • Social inhibition
  • Self-isolation
  • Limited social network and no close friends
  • Misunderstanding the neutral situation as negative
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Not trusting others
  • Limited assertiveness
  • Sensitive toward negative evaluation
  • Inadequate feelings
  • Tense demeanor or fearful
  • Failing to start the social contact
  • High level of self-consciousness
  • Easily hurt by disapproval and criticism
  • Not visiting the events and social situations
  • Avoid making the decisions
  • Not sharing intimate feelings and intimate relationships
  • Turning down the promotion and not interacting with people in the social/work setting
  • Becoming a people pleaser and avoiding the conflicts
  • Feeling anxiety in the social situations
  • Anxiety makes them say and do the wrong things
  • Anhedonia and not feeling pleasure in activities
  • Being liked need

Causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder 

Various psychological, social, environmental, and genetic factors play a role in the development of avoidant personality disorder. Limited affection by the caregiver or the parents to the children, ridicule, criticism, and emotional abuse would cause the development of the AVPD condition. Peer rejection could also be a risk factor.

Kids with AVPD conditions are very hesitant and shy as a child and their hesitation and shyness don’t go away as they grow up. It’s important to mention here that AVPD and social anxiety disorder exhibit similar types of symptoms and genetics, but AVPD is a more severe condition.

Diagnosis of AVPD 

The trained mental health professional would diagnose the avoidant personality disorder based on the criteria of DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorder). Your family physician or primary healthcare provider would be the first person to contact for diagnosis, and your doctor would refer you to a psychologist or mental health professional.

The diagnosis of AVPD condition is common among adults. Shy behavior is a normal experience among children and it develops when they grow up. In order to diagnose AVPD condition, any of the four elements should be present;

  • Hesitant to try out new things and take the risks due to the fear of embarrassment
  • Feelings of inferiority to others, unappealing, and being socially inappropriate
  • Inadequate feelings and inhibitions to the social situations and circumstances
  • Rejection and criticism in social situations and preoccupation with such thoughts
  • Not getting involved in the intimate and romantic relationship due to the fear of humiliation and ridicule
  • Reluctant to attach with others unless you’re sure that others would like
  • Avoiding professional and occupation activities that involve social networking due to the fear of rejection, disapproval, and criticism

Treatment of Avoidant Personality Disorder 

People with AVPD conditions don’t receive proper treatment. When they do seek out treatment, it’s due to specific life problems like anxiety and depression, and they would stop the treatment if the problem is resolved.

Like any other type of personality disorder, it’s difficult to treat the AVPD condition due to the behavioral pattern. It makes it hard for the person with the condition to recognize the benefits of the therapeutic treatment. However, the reason they don’t seek out treatment is that they avoid things and isolate themselves as a coping mechanism.


There is no exact medication for AVPD condition. If the person is experiencing relevant conditions like anxiety and depression, then the doctor would prescribe anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication to improve the mood and lower the sensitive feelings of rejection.

Talk Therapy

Some of the main types of talk therapies for an avoidant personality disorder are as follows;

  • Schema Therapy: it’s an integrative approach built upon CBT and other therapeutic methods and techniques. The focus of this technique is to establish the relationship between the client and therapist, improve the quality of daily functioning of life, and learn insight into the change.
  • CBT: it’s a very effective therapeutic approach to recognizing the negative thought pattern and replacing it with the positive ones. The focus of this therapy is to be aware of previous conflicts, pains, and experiences that are causing you difficult signs.

Conclusion: What is Avoidant Personality Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is avoidant personality disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that AVPD would isolate you from society and the relationship. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with a therapist in your area to work on the treatment plan.